I feel like we really started hearing about mommy bloggers back in 2010 and 2011. Maybe it was earlier than that, or maybe that was just when I started hearing about them. I started reading blogs when I was pregnant with my first child. I clearly remember the first blog I ever read was Happy Health Mama and I ate it up. I think I found the blog through a Google search for something mom-related, being pregnant at the time, and I found recipes and fun stories and a whole different type of narrative than I’d ever seen online.
I searched through Maryea’s blogroll and found blogs like Daily Garnish and Kath Eats Real Food, and my reader (does anyone else miss Google Reader?) grew to well over 100 blogs. I loved the mix of recipes, parenting advice, and a peak into the daily lives of these women.
Starting a Mommy Blog Was a No-Brainer
I’ve always been a writer, and I was about to be a mom, so starting a mommy blog seemed like a no-brainer! I started a blog focused around being a working mom, creating recipes, and my son’s milestones. I posted vegetarian and vegan recipes and treats, I posted pictures and quotes, and anything else I thought was fun and exciting. I loved it! The only problem was that no one was reading. So, I started researching how to get more exposure, readers, and followers.
I read about how you have to comment on other mommy blogs to be a successful mommy blogger, you have to join link ups, and you have to have a social media following. You have to write list posts, and work with brands, you have to teach people something and be an expert. So I got to work!
Building My Tribe
I built up my social media following by joining groups that built social media followings. Something like, ‘hey, put your link here and we’ll all follow you as long as you follow everyone else.’ I got over 1,000 Twitter and Google+ followers this way. I got my Instagram and Facebook over 500 (which I know isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, but for me it was huge!) and I was feeling pretty good about my presence. Then I started working with brands. I got sponsored posts for a wooden watch (which was beautiful, but seemed to not be water proof), dairy creamer (which was tough considering I was focusing on vegan foods), and baby bottles. I was making a little bit of money and getting free products. Honestly, I miss those days for that reason.
So What’s the Issue?
It all sounds great, right? The problem was that none of those social media followers were ‘real’ followers. They didn’t interact with my content, and I didn’t interact with theirs. I barely used Twitter and Instagram because there was too much content and none of it was interesting. This was during the tummy wrap phase of Instagram and my feed was loaded with it! And those products I was writing about? Some of them weren’t that great, and I didn’t know how to be honest about that. I just wrote about the positives, didn’t talk about the negatives, and walked away feeling like hot shit because I got free stuff. Even hotter shit when I got paid for the post.
Have you read this post by Josi Denise Parker? Whoa momma! Honestly this is how I felt about my own blog (thought not about the spelling and grammar, I am super meticulous about those things):
You’re writing in an inauthentic voice about an unoriginal subject, worse if sprinkled with horrible grammar and spelling, and you are contributing nothing to the world but static noise.
I realized I wasn’t being my true self. I wasn’t writing about arguing with my husband or having a behavioral disorder. Honestly, I wanted to write about both of these things so many times but I was scared to because those things weren’t my brand. And those damn list posts, I wrote so many list posts. 20 Scrumptious Skillet Recipes, 10 Ways to Know You’re a Crazy Blogger, 15 Things that Will Make you blah blah blah. I don’t think like that, why was I writing like that? Because that is supposedly how you get clicks and traffic, that is how you’re supposed to get readers.
Don’t get me wrong, having readers is great. I miss my following and my steady readers. This blog is new and I am really struggling with getting a following. But I refuse to get it any other way than honest. If you like my content, follow me! If you don’t, that’s OK, you can move along. And I will do the same. If I like you, I will follow you. I will comment on your blog (though I apologize in advance, my schedule is so crazy, I may miss a few, or I’ll comment on three posts in one day. But hey, this is me and this is what I can do.
Let’s Be Honest
Whew! That felt good to get out! I will confess that I still fall into these traps. I use SEO for better visibility, I even turned my Winter Bucket List into a list post. And that’s for two reasons: One, I started blogging when I was pregnant with my son who just turned six. That’s six years of blogging a certain way, so it’ll take me a while to break it. And two, I want my blog to be found! Who doesn’t? So every now and then I’ll probably follow a traditional blogging rule to increase the chances of my post being found through a Google search. But I am not going to hunt down brands, or manipulate my social media numbers. I’m not going to worry so much about how I will be perceived and I’m just going to be myself (this is the first time I have ever cursed in a blog post…and it’s honestly going to be very difficult to hit publish). Otherwise this whole thing ends up feeling too much like a job, and I already have a full time job that requires me to do a bunch of stuff I don’t want to do!
I’ll also continue to link up, I love link up parties, and even though they really don’t generate traffic, I enjoy them. I want to build a community, and a tribe. And I’ll leave long comments, I’ll link to posts internally, I’ll check my SEO and readability. But I will also try my hardest to show my true voice. Me as I am, not as how I want to be perceived.
We’ll see where this new blogger me goes, and how it all plays out. Even if it’s not more successful, I’m certain it will be more fun!